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The History of Haigh Hall

It has played a role in virtually every Wiganer's life, no matter which part of the Borough you come from, at some point you will have visited Haigh Hall.

But what do you know of the history of Haigh Hall?

We will take you on a little journey of discovery, starting as you walk out of the car park on School Lane and you see the old stables and courtyard.

The old stables and courtyard at Haigh Hall

The building is now the "Haigh Kitchen Courtyard" but its location close to the exit drive from the hall shows its prominence in years gone by. It would have been where the horses were tethered, watered and fed.

The actual entrance to the stables and courtyard is just around the corner there, under a clock tower with cobbles underfoot.

the clock tower and entrance to the stables at Haigh Hall

The origins of Haigh Hall itself go back to the late 12th century when a timber-framed manor house stood on the land where the current house stands.

It is at a high point overlooking the Douglas Valley and Wigan town itself, and the stables and courtyard are also at the high point of the estate.

Moving down the driveway away from the stables, you encounter the official entrance to the Hall and its grounds. Two ornate stone pillars form gateposts as the road drops down.

the entrance gates to Haigh Hall

The present hall was built in the early 1830s by the 7th Earl of Balcarres and even from the rear is such a magnificent building with its impressive architecture and stonework.

the rear facade of Haigh Hall

The Earl supervised the construction of the hall whilst living on the grounds, making sure all his design thoughts were carried out to perfection.

Hard sandstone was brought up the canal from the quarries in Parbold and then cut to precision using steam-powered saws that had been specifically designed by the Earl - he was a man of many talents!

sandstone facings of Haigh Hall

The ground floor Ballroom is the grandest of the rooms inside and it overlooks the golf course with views out over Wigan itself. Many a couple have been married in that Ballroom over the years, as it was a non-religious venue for such ceremonies.

ground floor ballroom of Haigh Hall

As you sweep around the far corner, you get a good view of the size of the ballroom and also the newer porch which was added around 1844.

the ball room and porch at Haigh Hall

The eagle-eyed amongst you may notice a slight change in the stone used for the porchway and that was due to the fact that Parbold stone was no longer available, which is a shame really.

During both great wars, the house was used to provide care and recovery for injured soldiers, thus adding to its already impressive history.

The 11th Earl sold the hall and the ground to Wigan Corporation in 1947 and it remained in the council's hands until 2016 when it was leased to a luxury hotel group who decided to put the white dividing line along the driveway, much to the ire of the local community.

the front entrance and porchway to Haigh Hall

Thankfully in 2019, the Council terminated the hotel's lease and took back full control and now plan a whole host of refurbishments and redevelopments - how successful those will be, only time will tell.

Now during its construction, the Earl made sure that there was extensive tree planting, not only to make the area look better but to also screen the house from his collieries in the valleys below.

The mature trees still form a lovely foreground to the hall today.

the grassland and trees around Haigh Hall

There is a cast iron balcony, with all the iron used in the construction of the hall being forged on the estate at the Haigh Foundry.

As you would expect the hall has been registered with National Heritage as a designated Grade II listed building, having gained that status in 1951.

There is so much more to show you as you explore the grounds, all the way through to the arch on Wigan Lane, but that is for another day.

For now, I will leave you with a very familiar sight to anyone who has strolled around the grounds - the Stone Lion - thought to have been originally on a bridge at Atherton Hall in Leigh and possible then on Wigan Gas Works, the lion has moved locations within Haigh Country Park many times.

At the moment, it stands (or rather, sits) on a plinth near the outdoor seating area at the Kitchen Courtyard, and splendid it looks too.

the Stone Lion at Haigh Hall country park

Haigh Hall has been a big part of many people's lives and the future now looks bright again for this Wigan landmark.

Always worth a day out, so if you have the time, take the trip and enjoy it.


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